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Wiring a 3-Way or 4-Way Switch

Do you need to wire 2 switches to control the same light or lights??

Or, wire 3 switches to control the same light or lights??

Here are the instructions for wiring:

Wiring a 3-Way Switch

To use 2 switches to control the same fixture, you will need to use two 3-way switches.

Run 2-wire cable from the fixture to the first switch. Between the switches you will need to run 3-wire (with ground) cable. (The white and red wires will be the switched wires.)

In the picture below, we show power coming into the light fixture. The black (hot) wire will pass right through going to the first switch. Attach it to the white wire of the wire running to the switch. The white wire from the power source will attach to the light's white wire. The light's black wire should be attached to the black wire running to the first switch.

At the switch the white wire (hot) coming from the light, will be connected to the dark colored screw. Mark it with a black marker or paint the end black to indicate it is hot. The red and white wire of the 3-wire going to the next switch should be attached to the light colored screws. Connect the black wire of the 3 wire cable to the black coming into the switch from the light.

At the second switch, attach the black wire to the dark screw and the white and red to the light colored screws.

3 way switch wiring
3 way elementary

For more elementary wiring diagrams of different 3 way circuits scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Wiring a 4-Way Switch

A 4-way switch is used when you need 3 or more switched to control the same fixture. I will show how to wire 3 switches, however you can add as many 4 way switches to the circuit as you need or want.

For 4-way switch wiring, you will need two 3-way switches (one at each end) and then as many 4-way switches as you want in between. 2 wire cable runs from the light to the first switch, and then 3 wire is run between all the switches.

At the light, the black (hot) wire will pass right through going to the first switch. Attach it to the white wire of the wire running to the switch. The white wire from the power source will attach to the light's white wire. The light's black wire should be attached to the black wire running to the first switch.

At the first switch (a 3-way switch), the white wire (hot) coming from the light, will be connected to the dark colored screw. Color the end black with black paint or a black marker to indicate it is hot. The red and white wire of the 3-wire going to the next switch should be attached to the light colored screws. Connect the black wire of the 3 wire cable to the black coming into the switch from the light.

At each of the next switches except the last, use 4-way switches, attach the the red and white of the wire coming into the switch to the bottom of the switch's screws. Attach the red and white of the wire leading to the next switch to the screws at the top of the switch. Attach the two blacks together. At the last switch (a 3-way switch)attach the black wire to the dark screw and the white and red to the light colored screws.


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4 way switch wiring
4 way elementary


3 way switch wiring, lights after switches
3 way switch wiring, lights between switches






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